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The rising cost of renting has again hit its highest level since comparable records began in 2016, with strong demand from tenants.

With fewer properties available to rent in many areas, the mismatch between supply and demand has pushed up costs for many people.

Prices paid by UK renters rose by 5.3% on average in the year to July, the Office for National Statistics said.

The figures come as rising prices continue to squeeze household budgets.

The inflation rate, which measures how the cost of living changes over time, fell to 6.8% in the year to July. Although this was down from 7.9% in June, it is still far above the Bank of England's target of 2%.

High demand from tenants at the same time as landlords reducing the number of available properties is one of the key reasons behind the rent increase.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows UK average annual rent increases accelerated to 5.3% from 5.2% the previous month.

There was a 5.5% increase in rents in London, which was the only region where house prices had fallen. This was the sharpest increase in rent since comparable records began for London in 2006.

The same annual rent rise was recorded in the West Midlands as well as Yorkshire and the Humber.

There were even bigger rises for tenants in Wales, where the average was up 6.5% in a year, and in Scotland (up 5.7%). In Northern Ireland, where the data is collected slightly differently, there was a 9.2% increase in the year to May, although this was lower than the previous peak.

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